Sleep apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted as they sleep. If left untreated, sleep apnea can reduce the amount of oxygen in the body, which may, over time, lead to serious health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and liver problems.
Thankfully, there are ways to treat this condition. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, our team at Oral Implants & Reconstructive Dentistry can make a custom appliance for you that will open your airway and help you get a full night’s sleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that may cause a person to stop breathing during the night. There are two types of sleep apnea – obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the proper signals to the body to regulate breathing. Obstructive sleep apnea is much more common and occurs when the tongue rolls back into the throat or when soft tissues collapse into the airway. Depending on the condition’s severity, this may happen hundreds of times per night, sometimes for several seconds at a time.
Over time, sleep apnea may affect the oxygen levels in the bloodstream and brain, which can damage your critical body systems and prevent them from functioning properly. If left untreated, this condition can cause long-term problems in the heart, liver, and brain.
What Are the Symptoms?
This condition is most common in men over forty, although it can affect people of any age and gender. Sleep apnea is also prevalent in those with obesity. This condition must be diagnosed by a sleep physician. If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, please schedule an appointment with us for a free consultation. We would be happy to refer you to a certified sleep specialist and discuss treatment options, if necessary.
Symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Sore throat after waking up
Frequent morning headaches
There are several risk factors associated with sleep apnea. If you have a family history of this condition, are dependent on alcohol, frequently use sedatives to fall asleep, are overweight, or have a history of smoking, you may have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
Traditionally, obstructive sleep apnea was treated with CPAP machines. These devices are large, loud, and often uncomfortable. Because of this, many patients with CPAP machines do not use them as often as they should. Thankfully, with modern advances in dentistry, we can achieve the same effects with a slim, customized mouthpiece.
These mouthpieces are very similar to dental nightguards. Your mouthpiece will gently adjust the position of your jaw to clear your airway and prevent your tongue from falling into your throat. We will design your mouthpiece to fit comfortably and securely over your teeth, so you can enjoy relaxing, uninterrupted sleep.
If you think you may have sleep apnea, or if you have been diagnosed with this condition and want to learn about treatment options, please call our office at 614-885-1215.